Odin’s Ravens (2nd edition) from Osprey Games

I was asked by Osprey Games if I would review the new edition of Odin’s Ravens for them. What did I think? How does it compare to the first edition? Read on………

I was a little apprehensive at first to do the review as I had played (and owned) the 1st edition and was not a fan – well why would I get rid of my copy if I liked it? I don’t like doing negative reviews, certainly when a company goes to the expense to get the game to me in the first place, but I always want to be truthful about the game and if I enjoyed it or not, if the game has flaws plus I have a reputation of being fair (so I have been told) by companies I have reviewed for. Anyway, this was a new edition, it was rehashed by the original designer Thorsten Gimmler who also designed one of the greatest ‘Filler’ games of all time ‘No Thanks’. Second editions are generally better than the first (I am not including Descent in this generalisation here) so let us see if it has improved.

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What’s in the box? Have a look for yourself!

For those of you who are not aware of the first edition Odin’s Ravens was from the Kosmos 2 player game range. Guess how many players it was for? It was a race game where you raced your Ravens up a track of landscape cards and the first to get to the end got X amount of points, but you could also get points from doing other things as well. It was quite complex for what was meant to be a fairly quick 2 player filler. You played over a few rounds until someone hit or went past 12 points.

The artwork for the 2nd edition was a lot better, both on the box, on the cards and even the wooden Ravens were far better. The insert for the box was practical and the box itself opened up like a book rather than a standard game box. So it was certainly more visually appealing than the original. Even the rulebook was pretty, certainly a step up from the other offering from Osprey I reviewed ‘They Come Unseen’ (which was the only negative I found about an excellent game).

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Box and rulebook

I remember having to read the rules to the original edition a couple of times. It may have been one of the Kosmos 2 player games, but as I mentioned above, it was complex, one of the most complex of the whole range. After a few plays I found it way too repetitive and lost interest in the game quite quickly. I start to get on with reading the rules from the pretty new rulebook and they seemed a lot more straight forward than the previous version. It certainly didn’t take several rule reads to get to grips with the game.

For those who have not played the first edition, you start off by laying out a track of landscape cards on the table. You can see from the photo that there are 2 halves to each card. You place your Raven at one end just before the first card and your fellow player places their Raven next to yours alongside the other half of the card. The object of the game is to get your Raven along the halves of the cards that your raven is facing and when it gets to the last card it then moves to the other side of the landscape cards and comes back along the side of the cards that your opponent has just used – or if you are doing well – still using!

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The two ravens are about to start their race

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The ‘racetrack’ that the Ravens make their way up and down

Each player has a deck of their own flight cards, they depict one type of landscape that your Raven is allowed to fly over. Each player also has a separate deck of Loki cards. There are 8 Loki cards in the deck for each player. Loki cards allow you to hinder your opponent or aid your own passage back to Midgard. Each Loki card has 2 possible uses and you pick which one you want to utilise.

You move your Raven by using flight cards.  The card you play should depict the next terrain that your Raven needs to fly over, so if you play a fields card and the next landscape card is a fields card, you move onto it and discard the used card, however if there are two or more landscape cards of the same type in a row just one flight card of the same type flies you over all of them to the last card in the chain. If you are stuck and don’t have the relevant card you can use 2 flight cards of the same type to act as a joker to get you onto the next landscape card and if you have the correct cards continue on with your journey.

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Only 2 flight cards left, I’m not going far with these, better see if I can draw something better for next turn or see if Loki can give me a hand

What I have not told you yet is that on your turn you can have as many actions as you like. The restricting factor is the cards in hand. At the very end of your turn you draw 3 cards. Which stack of cards do you draw them from? You choose! You can mix and match as much as you like. However another thing that I have not told you is that when you use a Loki card, it goes in the box out of the game, not to a discard stack with your flight cards that gets reshuffled when the deck runs out. So you only get to use Loki cards 8 times in the game total. Use them wisely as some are a bit useful, some are incredibly useful. Yet another thing I am yet to tell you is that there is a hand limit of 7 cards – so there is no stockpiling cards then doing a huge move to get you to the end.

The differences between first and second edition:

  • The first edition is done over a number of rounds until someone gets to 12 points. The second is just a straight race. No points involved (what)!
  • In the first edition  you race just down your half of the cards and don’t come back, the 2nd you come back along the other half of the cards
  • There is no auxiliary deck in the 2nd edition (this will not make sense if you have not played 1st edition, so if you haven’t, ignore this)
  • There are no ‘magic way’ cards in the 2nd edition (refer to the text in brackets above)
  • The 2nd edition is less complex
  • Artwork in the 2nd edition is far superior

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Close up of the Ravens

So has it improved? Yes.

A lot? Enough for me to like this version.

I found with the original that sometimes the last round was a foregone conclusion as one player was so far ahead and I found it a bit to repetitive, that problem has been removed with this version, plus each game I have played of the 2nd edition has been fairly close each time with a game time of around 30 mins. It is a doddle to teach and pick up too. I have seen debate on forums about the two different versions and opinions seem to be evenly split. If you wanted a copy of the first edition as it has been out of print for an age and very hard to get hold of, you may  be a bit disappointed. If you felt a bit bored by the first edition – as I was – this more streamlined version may be just the ticket. It was with me. I don’t own many 2 player only games, I rarely get the opportunity to play them, yes I know that it may be a shock to you that I have more than one friend, but I do – I think! Unlike the first edition that I sold in the Manchester Board Game Auction this will not meet the same fete of its predecessor.

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